PMP Introduction

A brief introduction to the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification including eligibility criteria, application process, administration, exam format, exam fee, and list of important documents.


Project Management Professional (PMP®) is the world’s most recognized and coveted certification for project management. It is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), USA. It is meant for experienced project managers who have at least 3 years of project management experience. If you are looking for an entry-level project management certification, consider the CAPM® Certification, which requires no prior experience.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for PMP certification, you need to meet BOTH the following requirements.

  1. At least 3 years or 4500 hours of project management experience at the time of submitting your application.
  2. 35 hours of formal project management education or training.
BrainBOK PMP Pro meets the 35 hours of education requirement

Application Process

  1. PMP application needs to be submitted online through PMI’s Certification Portal. Refer to the PMP Application Process - Step-by-Step Guide.
  2. PMP application may get audited on random basis.

About PMP Exam

  1. The PMP exam tests your project leadership experience and expertise in predictive, adaptive, and hybrid project environments.
  2. The exam is usually a computer based test, though paper based test option is available under special cases.
  3. The exam is administered in English but language aids are available for 15 languages upon request.
  4. The exam is administered by Pearson VUE at their testing centers. You need to book your exam date and go to a test center to take the exam.
  5. The exam can be taking online from the comfort of your home or office.
  6. The exam fee is $555 for non-members, and $405 for PMI members (membership fee is $139 - a net saving of $11 plus other benefits).
  7. PMP exam ‘syllabus’ is outlined in the PMP Exam Content Outline.
  8. The exam is 230 minutes in duration and consists of 180 questions, of which 5 are pretest (not scored) questions.
  9. The exam is divided into three sections of 60 questions each.
  10. The computer-based test has two 10-minute breaks. The paper-based test has no breaks.
  11. You can take a break between each section (maximum 2 breaks).
  12. You cannot revisit the questions in a section after completing the section.

PMP Exam Questions

  1. The exam questions are categorized into 3 domains:
    • People (42%)
    • Processes (50%)
    • Business Environment (8%)
  2. The questions can be of multiple formats, such as:
    • Multiple choice single answer
    • Multiple choice multiple answers
    • Drag and drop
    • Hotspot
    • Fill-in-the-blank
  3. About 50% of the questions are based on agile and hybrid life cycle approaches.
  4. Some questions may require the use of a calculator. Calculator and whiteboard are built into the exam software, but you can also request a physical calcuator during the exam.

PMP Passing Score and Validity

  1. PMI does not disclose the PMP exam passing score.
  2. After you take the computer based exam, you’ll get your result immediately on your computer screen. You’ll also get a printed copy of your exam score report immediately at the test center. Candidates who take an online proctored exam can print out their score report from the PMI online certification system.
  3. PMP certification is valid for 3 years. During these 3 years, you need to earn 60 PDUs to renew your certification.

PMP Study Plan

If you are a subscriber of BrainBOK, you may follow our recommended study plan for PMP certification.

Important Documents

Here’s a list of all the important documents that you should download and read before you proceed.

PMI Certification Handbook

The PMI Certification Handbook details various aspects of the PMP certification including application process, payments, PMI audit process, exam policies and procedures, exam administration, exam scheduling, etc. It would take about 2 hours to read this handbook, but it’s a worthwhile investment of time if you are serious about the certification. Take the time to download and read this document before you proceed further. You would need to refer back to this document along your certification journey.

Download PMI Certification Handbook

PMP Exam Content Outline

There’s a common misconception that the PMP certification exam is based on the PMBOK® Guide. Let’s dispel this myth right away. The PMP certification exam is based on the PMP Exam Content Outline and “not” the PMBOK® Guide. With this clear, go ahead and download the content outline and take about 15 minutes to glance through it. It may not make a lot of sense in the beginning, but will come in handy later.

Download PMP Exam Content Outline

PMP Exam is NOT based on the PMBOK® Guide. It is based on the PMP Exam Content Outline.

PMBOK® Guide

The PMBOK® Guide is one of the main reference guides for PMP. In PMI’s own words, “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is PMI’s flagship publication and is a fundamental resource for effective project management in any industry.”

The Guide comes in both PDF and hard-copy format. If you become a PMI member, then you can get the PDF version of the Guide for free and save on the exam fee too. Read 10 Benefits of PMI Membership for details.

For help with downloading the guide, refer to Download PMBOK Guide 7th Ed - FREE for PMI Members.

Download PMBOK® Guide

Agile Practice Guide

The Agile Practice Guide, 2017 is developed as a collaborative effort by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Agile Alliance. It is another key resource for the new PMP Exam.

PMI members can download the PDF version free of cost.

Download Agile Practice Guide

The Scrum Guide

Scrum is an agile framework, and is an important part of the new PMP Exam. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to learn. One of the easiest ways to learn Scrum is by reading the Scrum Guide, which is available for free. You can read it online or download it using the link below.

Download Scrum Guide

PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

In order to apply for any PMI certification, you need to agree to abide by the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Your certification exam may have direct or indirect questions on this topic. Please take the time to go through the document at the link below.

Download PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct


Refer to PMP vs CAPM Certification - Which certification is right for me? to understand the difference between the two certification programs and assess which certification is right for you.

Last updated: January 09, 2024